This morning we said goodbye to our Mercedes R class. We bought the heavily discounted ex-demonstration car the weekend of the financial crash in 2008 after our ten year old BMW had just died on us. At the time, we needed a car that would fit a family of four plus trumpets, saxophones, clarinets and friends and their instruments and PE kit bags and an already large and growing flatcoat puppy. We needed a car that could accommodate an aged parent or two to accompany us on the odd long journey and the 6 seater R class was ideal. Over the following weeks and months, our perspective on our purchase would change.
It’s a big old car, the R class, like driving and parking a bus, and probably not best suited to manoeuvring around the streets of suburban London. What’s more, it was thirsty and expensive to run. But, hey, many other families we knew had a large 4WD so we were hardly out of step with our peers. And the car was incredibly comfortable for the drive to Paris to visit the friends we had recently left behind.
But there were blind spots, as I discovered when trying, in a hurry, to negotiate a path around an illegally parked car in the Fairfield Halls car park. And just as I had discovered the eye-wateringly huge cost of repairing the dent I made there, just after it was fixed, I dented it again in almost exactly the same place. Ouch. And over time we began to realise exactly how much this car would cost us in insurance and road tax and petrol, even though it was used less than my Smart car.
Now, the Boywonder started learning to drive this summer and, because both the R class and the Smart have automatic gearboxes, we thought it best that we buy a car with a manual gearbox for him to practise, so we bought a little Citroen C1, which, despite its high biting point, is so much fun to drive. Between the three cars, we could now seat 12 people. Which seemed rather excessive, particularly as my father-in-law was married this year and will, presumably, be driving his new wife around without us. The 6 seater had become a very expensive, polar-bear murdering white elephant.
So we looked for a smaller car. We initially thought of an estate car to accommodate the dog, but these turned out to be just as long as the R class with not as much headroom for poor Oscar, who really didn’t enjoy cringing in their rear compartments to try them out. And then we decided that we’d buy a much smaller car that still had headroom that would accommodate Oscar.
So we’ve plumped for the B class. It’s small but gorgeous, like us, and we’re hoping that this will be more economical, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. Its Road Tax is less than my Smart’s! We’ve had to dispense with the automatic tailgate and the sunroof and the heated front seats so there will be no lovely warm derrière in the winter but otherwise the new car is still luxurious. Just a lot smaller and with Bluetooth. Although we can no longer intimidate other road users with our huge frontage, the new car is nippy and fun to drive and comfortable enough for four and a big dog. We’re going to get a dog crate for Oscar. He’s not keen on cars.